It is not a bird, plane, penalty or tax, but a user fee -- to be collected from those who seek to rely on the health care system but would rather avoid paying for it, the "free riders." The whole idea of insurance of any kind, as even a diehard capitalist will agree, is to throw some money into a communal piggy bank to cover the costs of those who will eventually need it. Some may end up taking out of the "bank" less than others, some a great deal, but because health care costs can be enormous, it is rational to purchase insurance at a reasonable fee and, as they say, share (or 'pool') the risk.
Most Americans already contribute to the health care insurance pool, either by purchasing insurance themselves or by getting it from their employers. Others are covered by Medicare or by Medicaid, soon to be expanded under the new law. The roughly one percent who are left, and hence are to be charged a user fee if they do not get insurance, must be reminded that unlike most other insurances -- for cars, fire, earthquakes and such -- which one can reasonably hope to never need, sooner or later, we all will need health care.
Read the rest at the Huffington Post.